A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era, Vol. 3
Judicial Decisions, 1857-1866
A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is the first comprehensive collection of public policy actions, political speeches, and judicial decisions related to the American Civil War. Collectively, the four volumes in this series give scholars, teachers, and students easy access to the full texts of the most important, fundamental documents as well as hard-to-find, rarely published primary sources on this critical period in U.S. history.
The first two volumes of the series, Legislative Achievements and Political Arguments, were released last year. The final installments, Judicial Decisions, is split into two volumes, with this one, volume 3, spanning from 1857 to 1866. It contains some of the classic judicial decisions of the time such as the 1857 decision in Dred Scott and the 1861 Ex parte Merryman decision. Other decisions are well known to specialists but deserve wider readership and discussion, such as the October 1859 Jefferson County, Virginia, indictment of John Brown and the decision in the 1864 case of political and seditious activity in Ex parte Vallandigham. These judicial voices constitute a lasting and often overlooked aspect of the age of Abraham Lincoln. Mackey’s headnotes and introductory essays situate cases within their historical context and trace their lasting significance. In contrast to the war, these judicial decisions lasted well past their immediate political and legal moment and deserve continued scholarship and scrutiny.
This document collection presents the raw “stuff” of the Civil War era so that students, scholars, and interested readers can measure and gauge how that generation met Lincoln’s challenge to “think anew, and act anew.” A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is an essential acquisition for academic and public libraries in addition to being a valuable resource for courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, legal history, political history, and nineteenth-century American history.
Thomas C. Mackey is a professor of history at the University of Louisville and adjunct Professor of Law at Brandeis School of Law. He is the author of Pornography on Trial and Pursuing Johns.